• Vilawatt Final Event

    Vilawatt Final Event

    Vilawatt UTM is hosting its Final Event to present to an open audience of EU city practitioners and experts the main outputs and results achieved during the guided process of transferring Viladecans’ Vilawatt UIA, to three European cities: Nagykanizsa, in Hungary, Seraing in Belgium, and Trikala, in Greece.


    Vilawatt UIA project started in 2016 within the framework of the European Initiative of Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) as a pioneering proposal to foster energy transition in the municipality, and it has become the main driver of the implementation of the new renewable energy model in the city of Viladecans.


    After almost two years of sharing learnings and experiences among the partner cities within the framework of the Vilawatt UTM, next October 19th we will present the results and conclusions. We will reflect on the challenges and opportunities that small and medium-sized cities face when boosting a change in the energy model in order to achieve climate neutrality by 2030-2050.


    Join us to know about key project findings and challenges faced by the cities during the transfer process. You will hear the voices of their political authorities who are leading energy transition strategies in their cities and the support they require to carry out the implementation of their Energy Efficiency Plans.


    A panel of experts in the field will contribute with their views on some key trends in energy transition strategies relevant for cities and some support tools to consider for funding and implementation.


    Check the agenda below:
    The referenced media source is missing and needs to be re-embedded.


    This hybrid event will showcase how it's possible to change the energy model in small and medium sized cities for climate neutrality. Register now for the online sessions!

    URBACT Network
    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
    • Energy efficiency
    Open to a wider public
  • Urb-En Pact


    Lead Partner : Clermont Auvergne Métropole - France
    • Bialystok Functional Area - Poland
    • Palma di Montechiaro - Italy
    • CIM Alto Minho - Portugal
    • Métropole Rouen Normandie - France
    • Galati - Romania
    • Ecofellows - Tampere - Finland
    • Elefsina

    Clermont Auvergne Métropole - 64-66 avenue de l'Union Soviétique BP 231 63007 CLERMONT-FERRAND Cedex 1 - FRANCE


    Watch all the Urb-En Pact video stories here.


    • Kick-off Meeting
    • 1st Transnational Meeting in Bialystok Functional Area
    • Phase 2 Digital Kick-Off Meeting
    • Digital Transnational Meeting - Best Practises
    • Digital Transnational Meeting - Political Vision & Citizens Inclusion (Rouen)
    • Digital Transnational Meeting - Inclusion of companies (Elefsina)
    • Digital Transnational Meeting - Science & Innovation (Clermont Auvergne Métropole)
    • Digital Transnational Meeting - Major Infrastructure & Integrated Policies (Tampere)
    • Digital Transnational Meeting - Midterm Reflexions
    • COP 26 Network Meeting
    • Digital Transnational Meeting - IAPs Peer Reviews (CIM Alto Minho)
    • Transnational Meeting in Grenoble, France - IAPs Restitution
    • Transnational Meeting in Brussels, Belgium - Finance & Dissemination Event


    The URB-EN PACT booklet bears witness to the experiences of each partner city and the moments they shared in this adventure.


    Urb-En Pact Final Publication

    The 8 partner cities and organisations involved in the Urban Energy Pact project embrace the ambitious goal of becoming net zero energy (NZE) territories no later than 2050. Urb-En Pact aims to define local action plans for the implementation of a local and sustainable energy balance by producing and delivering renewable and regulated sources of energy. Urb-En Pact will unite all of the stakeholders of this circular economy, especially the consumers included in this energy loop, in and around the metropolitan area.

    Together towards net zero energy cities
    Ref nid
  • FED


    Fossil Free Energy Districts - a piece of the puzzle for energy transition

    Stina Rydberg
    Johanneberg Science Park Gothenburg
    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
    579 281


    Global warming has made the transition to renewable energy sources absolutely necessary and urgent. At the same time the power demand is increasing due to electrification of transport and industry and urbanisation, followed by grid constrains and risk for blackouts. 


    Local energy systems, digitally connected to and interacting with external, existing energy systems, have the potential to solve challenges connected to renewable systems and could thus be an important piece of tomorrows’ energy system puzzle. The Fossil-free Energy Districts project, FED, was an innovative initiative aiming to find modern solutions to global energy challenges and make it work. 
    FED has built up a local energy system, coupling three energy carriers in the same system: electricity, district heating and district cooling. All three are traded every hour, on the hour, at a digital marketplace, shaving power peaks and optimising the total energy consumption, in the local system. The system is able to provide the external grid with services for grid stability e.g. flexibility aggregation, reactive power and frequency control. 


    The results show a 100% fossil-free energy district, where local waste heating and cooling can be utilised and with a potential for energy efficiency of up to 20%. 

    The innovative solution

    FED has proven an innovative, digital solution to meet challenges in the energy transition. It has built up a local energy system, coupling three energy carriers in the same system: electricity, district heating and district cooling. All three are traded every hour at a digital marketplace, shaving power peaks and optimising the total energy consumption, in the local system. The system is able to provide the external grid with services for grid stability e.g. flexibility aggregation, reactive power and frequency control. 
    The results show a 100% fossil-free energy district, where local waste heating and cooling can be utilised and with a potential for energy efficiency up to 20%.  After project end, the actors can offer knowledge and replication strategies to cities, or others, wishing to make use of local energy systems and smart, digital platforms for balancing and optimising local energy systems. 

    A collaborative and participative work

    The well-balanced partnership in FED was made up of actors from public sector, academia and ICT, real estate and energy business. Factors of success were the large elements of learning from each other and the joint development of new knowledge and new technology solutions. The real estate industry could not do this without the energy utility involved, nor vice versa. The research partners provided excellence e.g. regarding market design. Public sector partners added the municipal and governance dimension. The project was jointly developed in an environment, where most partners already were known to each other. Trust was already built among the partners and this, together with the local setting and use of native language, has been pointed out as keys to success. 

    The impact and results

    The FED project has moved the frontline for what is possible on the area of local energy systems. Utilise sector coupling by combining three energy carriers, in the same system and enabling trade of all three of them on a digital platform is unique. FED has done what others just talk about and we have hands-on experience from e.g. connecting more than 50 market participants to one single system, handling large amount of complex data and developing an IoT platform with “smart agents” representing each market participant. A lot of time and effort has been put into identifying opportunities and barriers for local energy systems in real life. Legislation, business models, roles and governance are issues around which a great deal of knowledge has been built. Strategies for replication have been developed. 

    Why this good practices should be transferred to other cities?

    Global warming has made a transition from fossil-based to renewable energy sources urgent, which brings about new challenges, e.g. supply fluctuations due to the weather dependencies and decreased frequency control. Power demand is increasing due to electrification of transport and industry. Strong urbanisation has in some cases lead to severe constrains in power grid, with power shortage and higher risk for blackouts. There is not a single solution to solve all these challenges but local energy systems, connected to and interacting with external, existing energy systems, could play an important role in facing the challenges. A digital solution, e.g. a system like the one developed in FED, is vital for balancing and optimizing the energy systems of tomorrow. The challenges of energy transition are a reality in several areas of Europe and initiatives and projects with smart grid and local energy systems can be found in many cities. We have implemented and demonstrated a system with high technical level and high degree of complexity. The system solution in itself is adaptable and can easily be adjusted to meet local challenges. The experience that the project parties have gained is very valuable for any other city that want to address the challenges of energy transition with the help of a local energy system. 

    Is a transfer practice
    Ref nid
  • Vilawatt


    Innovative local public-private-citizen partnership for energy governance

    Marina Jarque
    Municipality of Viladecàns
    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
    66 168


    VILAWATT is boosting the energy transition process in the Catalan city of Viladecans by setting up a public-private-citizen partnership (PPCP, taking the legal form of a Consortium) where citizens of Viladecans and its main social actors play a key role. Viladecans priority was to increase citizen commitment and sense of belonging to promote a sustainable energy transition process. 


    Main achievements so far are:


    Governance- Citizens have a say at the Consortium through the associations linked to it. These associations have been created thanks to Vilawatt’s participatory strategy, as they did not exist before.


    Energy supply– Vilawatt pools the demand for energy and provides energy to all association members (100% Certified Renewable Energy) 
    Faster energy retrofitting of private buildings - Three residential buildings (in an underprivileged district) have received 1,4 M€ investment in a process that has been boosted by the city hall. The neighbours were part of the decision making process of the retrofitting works.
    Consulting services and learning communities - targeted at 10 different social actors: schools, retail sector, companies, unemployed…
    Efficiency incentives – Vilawatt local currency - The creation of a local electronic currency linked to energy savings also revitalises our retail sector (especially innovative in pandemic times). 

    The innovative solution

    • Boosting the shift towards a low-carbon economy: VILAWATT project has created a new organizational structure with a new set of tools to empower citizens and communities on energy saving and deep energy renovation issues.
    • Promoting citizen engagement to boost the change on the energy model: The bottom-up design process amongst all beneficiaries and involved actors (especially kids) has been essential to its success.
    • Enhancing employment possibilities: VILAWATT project has included a special focus on improving capacities of the local professionals, workers and unemployed on deep energy renovation, energy savings assessment and RES integration with thematic workshops and trainings 
    • Revitalising the local sector: With the new digital currency linked to energy transition and energy savings we are revitalising the local sector and contributing to circular economy.

    A collaborative and participative work

    • 9 partners (public and private) coordinated by the municipality of Viladecans have been involved in the project, each of them with a specific field of expertise (energy contracts, local currency, neighbours mediation, rehabilitation works...). 
    • One key achievement has been the development of a Participatory Strategic Plan that analyses the specific role played by 10 different social actors, mainly: neighbours (benefitting from all the company´s services); schools (11 schools are implementing energy-saving programs); construction companies (they exchange ideas and good practices), unemployed (they receive trainings in the energy field) and local trades (they accept the currency).

    The impact and results

    Vilawatt has succeeded on building a complex governance structure and implementing its services in a short implementation period. Some challenges were related to the effective engagement of neighbours in energy transition processes (solution: innovative communication, gamification), the implementation of the local currency, and the fiscal barriers that affected the beneficiaries of the subsidy for renovations (solution: being creative and finding fast alternatives to local barriers). Vilawatt has created so far:

    • 1 one-stop administration offering energy supply, consultancy, local currency, retrofitting works;
    • 1 Consortium governing the structure;
    • 3 retrofitted buildings;
    • 33 participative actions;
    • 14 communication campaigns.

    Why this good practices should be transferred to other cities?

    This project is lined up with the EU Energy Strategy and the policies related for a secure, competitive and sustainable energy. Viladecans Municipality seeks to speed-up its ambitious energy transition project in order to achieve the 2030 Energy Strategy targets (40% less greenhouse gas emissions, 27% share of RES consumption, 27% energy savings).
    At regional and local levels, Vilawatt is also aligned with the Energy Savings Plan 2011-2020, from Spanish Government and also the Catalan regulations on Energy building renovations.  
    Vilawatt’s approach can be interesting for medium cities willing to boost their energy transition strategy. Although Vilawatt structure (meaning its governance structure plus all its services) is complex to implement in a short period of time, some of its aspects can be replicated individually. 
    All phases of the project have been designed in a way that they can be replicated in other cities. However, given that buildings have different energy behavior depending on the geographical area, the retrofitting models & actions need to be specifically-tailored. Also local regulations may vary depending on the local/regional/national context and need to be carefully checked in advance. 

    Is a transfer practice
    Ref nid


    Launch of pilot network

    The VILAWATT Transfer Mechanism pilot boosts the energy transition process by setting up a public-private-citizen partnership, where citizens and main social actors play a key role. The priority is to increase citizen commitment and sense of belonging to promote a sustainable energy transition process. Main achievements in the Lead Partner city, Viladecans, include citizens got a saying at the Consortium through the associations linked to it, using a participatory strategy, as they did not exist before. When it comes to energy supply, Vilawatt pools the demand for energy and provides energy to all association members (100% Certified Renewable Energy) Faster energy retrofitting of private buildings.

    Innovative local public-private-citizen partnership for energy governance
    Ref nid
  • Zero Carbon Cities

    LEAD PARTNER Manchester
    • Frankfurt - Germany
    • Tartu - Estonia
    • Zadar - Croatia
    • Bistrița - Romania
    • Modena - Italy
    • Vilvoorde - Belgium

    The Zero Carbon Cities Action Planning Network will support partner cities to establish science-based carbon reduction targets, policies and action plans, including governance and capacity building to enable them to contribute to the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement and the EU’s strategic vision for carbon neutrality by 2050.

    Zero Carbon Cities
    Ref nid
  • How 'Resilient Europe' Brought Urban As Well As Personal Change

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
    Local Action Plan by Malaga
    Energy efficiency

    “In Katowice, the resilient concept is relatively new. Before the project we didn’t even know the word! After committing to this project, we were really motivated to learn more and to participate. Over the past few years the city has been focused on realizing large investments, many in the city center. Now it was time to look at the local problems of the districts. Time was good, because a few months before the start of the project we had finished work on the Local Revitalization Program, for which we analyzed all districts for their problems, so we had the basics to choose our ULL.

    On a personal level, the Resilient Europe project gave me a lot of motivation to improve my English, so I took language classes. I wanted  to participate proactively on this project for which I needed a good level of English. I get a lot of energy from sharing our story and learning from other cities. Many solutions are very interesting and I hope that similar ones will be implemented in the future in Katowice. Urbact and Resilient Europe is an opportunity to learn how other cities work and what problems they are facing. I find it interesting to hear of places far from Katowice which have similar problems.

    Working on LAP has shown me that working in a particular district can be very interesting. It allows me to know the real problems and strengths of the district and above all the people.  Districts all have their own problems and own goals, and we all (citizens, entrepreneurs, city officials and city government) have to learn how to work together for the development of the districts.”

    - By Joanna Mękal (Katowice, Poland)


    From urbact
    Ref nid
  • Murcia - Integrated Action Plan

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
    How can cities develop long-term strategies that integrate the goals of more sustainable resource use, reduced carbon emissions and more equitable social development? Learn more through this video! This video is part of the URBACT II Capitalisation Workstreams.
    Energy efficiency

    Online engagement has significantly modified the nature of person-to-person interaction and communication, as well as it has the person-to-business and person-to-entity relationships, migrating traditionally face-to-face interactions to the virtual world, regardless of the context. Causing a vastly greater flow of information and increasing the amount of interactions and inputs received (e.g. conversations, advertisement, news, events, and a colossal etc.) to hundreds of impacts each day, making it harder to filter and focus on priorities, necessities and the veracity of the received and perceived information.

    If citizens are present on social media, so should their government, seek to develop digital relationships and establishing communication channels that can be activated from anywhere, at any time, and with minimal effort.

    As do companies, local governments should build the brands’ image and reputation, carefully confectioning content and citizen engagement, be it the way the information is presented, the tone that is used, the tools selected, and the content that is generated (e.g. digital flyers, images, (micro)videos, pictures, infographics, GIFs, and again, a colossal etc.) reinforcing the institutions ability to inform, educate, mobilise, engage and consult citizens. Leading to a decisive transformation of governance toward an open and inclusive format, profoundly changing the basic aspects of government.

    In models of traditional democratic processes and citizen engagement government act as the commanding entity and citizens as recipients, treating them as unable and unqualified i.e it would be better defined as participation without actual engagement, and leaving the citizens with a “participation” or “consolation” trophy.

    As such we can identify i.e. 1) Citizens will be more active in public affairs, from city planning to policy making, 2) Increasing needs for information on policy and governance, demanding transparency, 3) A demand for open governance models with citizen consultations, e-participation, 4) Modernisation of local government and the city itself, Smart City and e-governance. 5) The cry for governments and politicians to close (or at least shorten) the more than evident trust gap between government and society.

    The aim of this Integrated Action Plan (IAP) however, is not the citizen participation and engagement process itself(1) and although solutions must be developed to tackle the subjacent participatory governance issues, the IAP focusses on meaningful and integrated communication strategies and solutions for online communication with and digital engagement of citizens, as it deepens engagement with those who are already interested in issues being addressed, whilst offering possibilities of reaching new audiences who might otherwise not contribute. We do not only want to “broadcast” information and to seek unilateral “unengaged” responses, we want to listen and establish a dialogue with our citizens.


    It is necessary to benchmark the current culture and assess where you stand as a local government, how do people perceive you and the personality you have (as a city hall). As this “personality" can be used to create a positive public image which helps build long-lasting relationships with citizens and other stakeholders. And it is important to keep in mind there is no one “right” way to do this, the essential pretence is to align the way you communicate and the tone you set into a “personality” for the institution, meaning the people that communicate online on behalf of the institution, live that personality and embrace what it stands for.

    From the communication point of view have defined our City Hall’s core values, both the transcending values, what the institution stands for and therefore wishes to communicate, and which all communication should reflect, as guidelines on how to add (a maximum of two) additional values and how to integrate them into all online communication, for a specific subsector, as well as articulating which tone to use. E.g. transparency would be a core value, which every aspect of city communication should display, whilst communication from the department of youth directed specifically to youth, could easily have an added value which could be “youthfulness”, “colourfulness” or “joyous/happy”, VS “accuracy”, “supply data” or “visual representation” could be added values for the Statistics & Open Data Platform, as they, each in their own way, constitute values that are more inherent to the target audience.

    The communication values have to be transformed into communicational behaviour, how to transmit the selected values through communication whilst using the predetermined tone, acting from the created personality. Once this is clear the communication channels can be chose, and although this can be done in many ways, the most straight-forward approach is using the most popular ones, we don’t choose the tools our citizens use, and as any private company would say “you have to be where your (potential) clients are”.

    Identify key players willing to assume communication responsibilities within department, by choosing people compatible with the philosophy that has to be communicated, the necessary knowledge on the topics to be communicated on, and naturally sociable people, those that are sociable in an offline setting, as they know how human interaction works, are better at it, and having more developed interpersonal skills, tend to perform better in an online setting.

    The communication strategy in turn is a dynamic approach to a constantly changing environment. Situations and circumstances vary and we are reactive to this changing setting. Based in the previously mentioned values, tone and channels, content is generated and transformed to represent the underlying personality. In this aspect coherence is of vital importance as the perception of multiple personalities (i.e. persons) would undermine the goal of creating a persona for the entity. Each new “message” that’s developed (e.g. next year’s spring festival, a specific campaign to encourage recycling, etc.) should adhere to the core philosophy, just like a person would. And finally, qualitative and quantitative data should be monitored to assess the effectiveness of generated content, and to double down on well-functioning engagement.


    Municipality of Murcia

    From urbact
    Ref nid

    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
    While the city of Armagh promotes itself as "the religious capital of Northern Ireland" committed to attract visitors, the old prison, another asset in the city part of the extensive legacy of the archbishop Robinson period, is involved in a particular challenge: 
    Energy efficiency
    A transforming process through which it should be given a new function. But, which one?
    After some years working on a luxury hotel project, lively discussion and public consultation included, the plan is at a standstill but the old building demands urgent solutions.
    In this context, the city of Armagh, as owner of the gaol and willing to incorporate new inputs towards an effective proposal, invited members of the INT-HERIT transnational network to join the debate. A delegation of  thirty people, representatives of the nine cities associated in this URBACT project, visited the site, guided by local officers and experts, who shared basic information with the group of attendants to the meeting. Later, following the peer review method, the network produced a report supported by the project experts. The report, together with an article and a video, constitute some of the results of this transnational meeting, aimed at analysing in a critical way the implementation strategies that the cities of the network have in terms of cultural heritage.
    For more information please click here (I,II,III,IV)
    From urbact
    Ref nid
  • McAuley Place for older people


    The game changer in city centre revitalisation

    Sonya Kavanagh
    Director for Services, Economic Development, Kildare County Council
    Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn
    20 002


    To ensure the quality of life of its older people and their independence, Naas (IE) developed an alternative model to the institutional residential care one. McAuley Place is a non-medical, intergenerational and not-for-profit housing association located in the city centre, its 53 apartments are allocated both socially and privately to 60 people. McAuley Place aims at bringing older people to the heart of the vibrant Naas community. Activities such as the popular Arts and Crafts programme, by attracting inhabitants of all age, ensure the social inclusion and integration of the tenants. Since 2008, McAuley has been providing an environment in which all stakeholders, residents, workers and volunteers (often students), can connect.

    The solutions offered by the good practice

    McAuley Place offers the following: • It indicates the primary importance of operating to a Value-System. This is seldom the case in urban plan-making. Stating a value-system up front means you have to carry it through into policy, plan, and operational life; • McAuley is driven by the UN Principles for Older People, indicating clarity in its philosophy and ethos, but also indicating how these principles are put into practice; • McAuley offers a model of sustainable urban living, with a town centre location and a mixed-use campus, where culture operates as a critical platform, accessible to both resident and visitor alike; • It has been achieved through networking a cross-institutional approach and leveraging vertical integration through support from government, local authority, local business, and community groups; • In terms of both policy and operational fronts, McAuley Place strives to achieve horizontal integration through synthesising strategy which links social, economic and environmental perspectives; • McAuley illustrates inter-generational participation through activities which draw in all age groups into an intentionally mixed programme.

    Building on the sustainable and integrated approach

    • McAuley Place is guided by a holistic thrust. It works to achieve an awareness of the total systems it operates within, is inspired by its vision of the shape of future success, and applies strategy, action and tools to achieve it; • While working within a systems approach, which acknowledges the complexity of urban places, a thematic framework helps to structure this complexity, and suggests the need to achieve sustainability under key headings, e.g. social sustainability, cultural sustainability, economic sustainability, environmental sustainability, movement sustainability, and the spatial sustainability of urban form; • Key areas of performance include the re-use of under-used and vacant town centre sites, the application of mixed land use, combining the diversity of complementary activities in a mixed programme; • McAuley reduces the need for vehicular use, through its town centre location, which prioritises pedestrian access through walking and cycling; • McAuley Place achieves environmental objectives through recycling, water conservation, sourcing local food products for its tea rooms, and by providing ecological green spaces.

    Based on a participatory approach

    Openness, transparency, and communication. It strives to create an environment in which all its stakeholders, residents, workers/volunteers, can communicate, connect, and collaborate. • McAuley Place encourages and relies on a wide range of support from local government, local business and community group stakeholders; • It is the practice in McAuley Place to encourage a wide cross-section of stakeholders to become available for interviews for media/research, etc.; • High levels of participation in its Arts and Crafts programme reflect the critical importance of creativity, and help build a culture of social contact.

    What difference has it made?

    • The UN Principles on Older People hang in the foyer, the mixed-use campus sits around you; tea rooms, 53 apartments, Arts Hub, community centre, walled garden and Health through Learning Project [Phase 1]; • The events programme is real, varied, and very well supported; • The tea rooms are a huge success, a bustling meeting point for the town, where young and old mingle, where wonderful food is served, and where up to 35 volunteers support the full-time staff; • McAuley is a huge positive statement in a town centre which has suffered economically, and where there are many vacant buildings; • It illustrates how top-down governance, and bottom-up community energy can combine to tackle what appear to be intractable social issues, e.g. the isolation and poor quality of life suffered by older people; • The model of McAuley Place has drawn much interest from media and TV, and has been endorsed by the President of Ireland; • Evidence of huge ongoing community support. Evidence of lived lives.

    Why should other European cities use it?

    • The relationship of society to its older generation is a universal issue. McAuley Place shows how this issue can be approached, and how existing poor practice can be challenged; • It demonstrates an inter-disciplinary and inter-sectoral approach embedded in a campus where the mix of residential, Arts Hub, community centre, restored garden and tea rooms creates the kind of rich ecology which produces daily minor miracles, and sustains mental health and human existence; • McAuley is socially innovative, it has created a new kind of infrastructure, and it has done this by working in a cross-institutional manner, building bridges between top-down governance and a bottom-up “can-do” mindset; • It has used a hard infrastructure from a past legacy and fused it with the soft infrastructure inspired by a value system expressed in the UN Principles for Older People; • McAuley Place is an innovative contemporary institution which attracts and retains an impressive contribution from volunteers; • Every city and every neighbourhood would benefit from a McAuley Place.

    Is a transfer practice
    Ref nid